• Brand positioning
  • Brand idea
  • Internal brand engagement
  • New brand development

Marketing ambition, operational reality: a new positioning for Sizzling Pubs

They’re big, they’re brash, they’re bustling pubs with a focus on families and working people on the move up in life. Sizzling is Mitchells & Butlers’ value hospitality brand – with the theatre of the, literally, sizzling steak skillet symbolising all the sensory appeal of a good night out.

The business ambition was to substantially grow the food side of the business with minimum detriment to the drinker base. In an initiative co-funded by Marketing and Operations at M&B, it was clear from the outset that operational reality would be a pivotal factor in the final positioning. Getting a feel for the estate in all parts of the country was a start point: legwork before brainwork. We spent lunchtimes and evenings in pubs in Liverpool, Yorkshire, Birmingham, London and the South, interviewing staff and going back-of-house for shifts in the kitchens as part of the process.

The estate varied, with some managers embracing food far more successfully than others. The lessons learned from those pubs was as significant as anything uncovered in customer research.

The final positioning and brand idea was framed by reversing the notion of ‘pub with food’ to ‘food with pub’ – focusing in on great dishes that happened to come with a vibrant pub atmosphere into the bargain. Passionbrand worked closely with the operations teams at M&B to foster greater internal pride in serving good, honest food; this was to become the key to encouraging better customer perceptions and achieving business ambitions.

Passionbrand has also worked with Mitchells & Butlers on exploring new formats in Asian casual dining.

Tuk Cho: one of the new formats explored in Asian casual dining
Rich stimulus: one of the research concepts explored in our ‘food with pub’ approach.